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‘Why we’re intensifying research on Accha cereal’

Accha is part of your mandate, what has been done on Accha so far?We have been having problems with Accha; let me be very frank…

Accha is part of your mandate, what has been done on Accha so far?
We have been having problems with Accha; let me be very frank with you. Our problem is about breeder, the crop is very technical. In fact, worldwide Accha research is highly limited. You can search the net but you cannot come out with any information. Probably they will only tell you it is a vegetarian food. So, we have limited achievement in Accha. We have just recruited a young scientist, a woman for that matter, who is working with me, I am trying to put her through but up to today, we have not been able to produce any other variety of Accha, but we are working towards doing that with this young lady. We have done a lot of agronomic work on Accha, we still have the feeling that may be it’s just because we are scientists yet to produce something unique. We have not produced what we can tag as a variety. We need a breeder to tell us this cannot be segregated any more before we can release it to the farm. We don’t want to give a variety to a farmer and tomorrow it becomes something else. This has been our effort on Accha; agronomically we have done a lot. We have a lot of agronomical information on Accha but in breeding, we are limited.
Scientifically, what does Accha do to the body?
It is good for a diabetic patient because it has limited starch, the quality of starch and the sugar content is low. I am not an expert in Accha but I am telling you that we can blend it with some other food items. It is a product that has been recommended, particularly to the diabetic patient but generally speaking I cannot give broad detailed information on Accha as a diet. But it is a crop that a lot of information is available on its value on health. We know that it is limited to Plateau, some parts of Benue and Kaduna states. These are the places where it is traditionally grown. What we have done is to open a station in Ryom and their objective is to work on Accha. We have two scientists doing some work there but basically all of them are agronomists.
Is Accha only limited to being processed as cake, porridge, pottage and tuwo?
Our food technology unit is trying some other things. We are trying to see how we can use it along with kunun zaki, beverages and better cakes than the one you know now or you can see around that is almost raw. We are trying, from our food technology unit, to see what other uses we can put it into. We are doing research on that and even on rice.
What about soya beans?
Soya bean is another crop probably next to rice in oil content. It has a high level of industrial value for oil extraction, and I think, basically, that is what is done with Soya Beans in terms of commercial value, though there are some other uses. You know soya bean milk is more or less like meat, it has high level quality protein but the only thing is that it does not have that palatability of eating value. Soya bean goes mostly into oil production but there are some other values like Soya cake, Soya milk, soya Kunun Zaki and a host of others but principally it is for oil extraction. We give out a variety of soya beans but the first question you will be asked is: what is the amount of the oil content? How much oil can I get from it?
Have you succeeded in getting improved seed of soya beans?
Of course! I think we have released about seven to nine varieties to farmers. In fact, we have a variety that is being rushed in the market. There is one variety brought by one governor which they said is doing very well; we are now putting it into our research programme. We believe that within the next two years we will release it officially. We have seven because the last two were not released to farmers. We had to take them back for improvement, the technical committee did not agree with us so we had to work on them again. That is why sometimes it is very tough to get a variety registered because the technical committee is made up of good heads. By the time you tell them your story, they will tell you ‘it is faulty here or there, go and sort it out’.
Can ecology affect production of soya beans as it is in the case of rice?
Not as intensive as that of rice. Soya beans, fortunately, does not need much nitrogen so you can produce soya beans anywhere. In fact, we can use soya beans to revive any soil.
What is the achievement of the Institute in Sugar production?
On sugar cane, we have developed sugar processing machines so that we can get very pure good brown sugar from our own machines. The Etsu Nupe produces sugar here; he uses some of the fabricated machines from the Institute. We have installed some of these facilities in Jigawa and many other places, in fact all around the country. We have threshers that we fabricated; you can thresh cereals like rice and soya beans.

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